“Sometimes you put walls up, not to keep people out
but to see who cares enough to break them down”
Gadfly Growth Strategies
The “Gadfly” mentor/guide process is centered around the concept of self-discovery, alignment with life purpose and congruence between values and activity.
A self-aware, well-balanced CEO/Business Leader will be positioned to lead their enterprise to achieve its vision and execute its mission.
Gadfly is named after the historical “Gadfly,” Socrates.
The Socratic method was the style of learning Socrates practiced on the steps of the Athenian senate in ancient Greece. Socrates used provocative questions to encourage the student to discover knowledge from their own internal resources.
If there is one philosopher in the world whom you absolutely ought to know about, it’s Socrates.
As Nigel Warburton suggests in the first chapter of A Little History of Philosophy, ‘[if] philosophy has a patron saint, it is Socrates.’
Socrates was a very famous teacher in ancient Athens who was always pushing his students to question the things around them. This method of inquiry led to many wonderful discoveries, but it also made some people find him rather disagreeable:
‘Snub-nosed, podgy, shabby and a bit strange, Socrates did not fit in. Although physically ugly and often unwashed, he had great charisma and a brilliant mind. Everyone in Athens agreed that there had never been anyone quite like him and probably wouldn’t be again. He was unique.
But he was also extremely annoying. He saw himself as one of those horseflies that have a nasty bite—a gadfly. They’re irritating, but don’t do serious harm.
Not everyone in Athens agreed, though. Some loved him; others thought him a dangerous influence.’
Warburton explains that while Socrates’ questions often seemed ‘straightforward’, they were really designed to make the other person think hard about his beliefs and re-evaluate things that he or she would normally take for granted.
Coach, Consultant, Mentor?
When determining the difference between a coach, mentor, and consultant, it is necessary to look at specific roles and functions.
- First, we must look at the specific focus of the person.
- Second, we should look at the type of agenda or role the person has.
- Third, look at how the relationship is chosen and or cultivated.
- Fourth, how does the person garner influence?
- Fifth, what is the expected return for the services of the person?
- Finally, we must determine the scope of the person’s work.
Coaches appear in various forms, such as professional, life, relationship, and sports team coaches. All coach types share the same criteria. The focus of the coach is in specific performance – for example, an organizational coach is usually responsible for increasing or improving performance in a given area. The agenda for a coach, then, is usually fairly specific – improve batting average, increase sales, etc.
A coach usually arrives in the relationship selected by someone other than the “coachee” – in other words, the relationship is not self-selected. Coaches also influence through their position, such as in the sports world. But what is the expected return for a coach? As we’ve already discussed, a coach is looking for performance and possibly teamwork. Finally, a coach’s scope is usually task-related.
A consultant may take the form of mentors and coaches, but the primary difference between a consultant and coaches and mentors is that a consultant is usually paid for the specific task at hand. The focus of a consultant is usually not a specific performance or individual but a complete process or concept, such as customer service.
The consultant works on a specific agenda, as determined by the organization and the consultant. The relationship between consultant and client is usually self-selected by the client and based on cost, word of mouth, or area of expertise. On the other hand, the consultant can influence the client because of the perceived value he or she presents, as well as based on the record of past accomplishment.
Because a consultant relationship is usually paid, the expected return typically has a link to a monetary value, such as higher efficiency or monetary savings. Also, whereas coaches and mentors tend to be general or task related in scope, a consultant’s scope is defined by the consultant and the organization or client.
Mentors vary slightly from the coach. A mentor’s focus, unlike a coach, is typically on the individual and not on a specific task or performance. A mentor also takes a more general role to the individual, that is, there is usually a less-specific agenda. Many mentor relationships are self-selected – keep in mind that a coach is usually assigned to a person or a team, whereas mentor relationships usually spring from mutual interests, work styles, and histories. A mentor’s influence usually comes from the perceived value of the relationship as opposed to position.
The person choosing the mentor also chooses to take the role of “mentee” because of the expected return. So what is the expected return of a mentor? Many times the return could be as simple as affirmation or learning. Simply having a mentor will not guarantee that a person can advance in an organization and may not even be recognized as an “official” relationship, like a coach. The mentor’s scope is more than likely a general one – for example, if a person chooses a mentor in his or her profession, the mentor will likely cover many facets of that profession, including knowledge, preparation, networking, and technical function.
Who Can Best Help You Grow?
There are obviously subtle similarities between coaches, mentors, and consultants. But when you look at the specific criteria of the relationship, you can see that the differences should keep us from interchanging terms.